Protests in Chicago drew thousands fewer than last year during Black Friday shopping on the Magnificent Mile. Unlike November 2015, when thousands hit the streets, 150-200 gathered at 10:00 a.m., near Water Place, on North Michigan Avenue.
At 11:00 a.m., after multiple speakers gave speeches, the activists began marching south down Michigan Avenue. Later in the day, three arrests were made, one, reportedly, when a protester tried to block the door to a Crate and Barrel store. Otherwise, the protests were peaceful, noted ABC 7 News.
Last year’s protest cost some merchants an estimated 25 to 50 percent of potential sales. Some shoppers opted not to venture on to the Mag Mile while others shopped despite the protest, gaining access to blocked store doors with police assistance.
The protest is not a spontaneous one and was planned the first week in October by the Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression (CAARPR). It is the group’s response to the city for not implementing demands for a solely elected Civilian Police Accountability Council (CPAC), within 365 days after release of dash cam video of the the alleged murder of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald.
Protesters are also denouncing Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s new oversight organization, the Civilian Office of Police Accountability (COPA), which falls short of a major CPAC objective — an all-elected group with members from each of the city’s police districts. Per ABC 7 News, COPA replaces the Independent Police Review Authority (IPRA), a group which did not hold police accountable for misconduct and had been rallied against for years.
Warning: Video contains scenes of graphic violence. Viewer discretion is advised.
Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke was indicted on first-degree murder and police misconduct for fatally shooting McDonald, a black teen, who was shown on the video moving away from — not toward — Van Dyke. He fired 16 shots into McDonald, some after he had fallen, face down, onto the ground. Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson recently filed paperwork to have Van Dyke fired, per the Chicago Tribune. He had been suspended without pay.
While 2015 protests focused on McDonald and police misconduct, the 2016 agenda has more to do with what has happened in the aftermath of last year and focuses on inequalities in poor neighborhoods. It is also expected that anti-Trump activists and Democratic Party loyalists will participate, which may dilute the main message.
Activists don’t believe that Mayor Rahm Emanuel has done enough to reform what many view as a broken system. There were chants on Friday that expressed these sentiments.
“No justice, no peace. Hey, hey, ho, ho. Rahm Emanuel has got to go.”
In 2015, Emanuel’s approval rating had reached an all-time low of 27 percent. Today, the Wall Street Journal reports that it has risen to 42 percent. Largely, this is due to Emanuel attracting technology and other businesses to the city. A recent announcement was made that fast food giant McDonald’s headquarters will relocate to Chicago. The mayor was also able to negotiate a contract with the Chicago Teacher’s Union that warded off a strike.
Not all sectors of Chicago are pleased with the mayor, especially the black community which helped to elect him twice. When Emanuel initially sought the office of mayor, he had resigned from a high-profile position as White House Chief of Staff and days later announced his mayoral candidacy. He ran for a second term in 2015 and won but was accused of delaying the release of the McDonald video to increase chances of winning the election.
In some circles, Emanuel is being credited with implementing change in a broken city, but Chapman, an organizer with the CAARPR, doesn’t agree, per the Wall Street Journal.
“The mayor was complicit in a first-degree murder crime, and now he’s going to reform the city? Give me a break.”
Per ABC 7, a 19-year-old black man, Kajuan Raye, was fatally wounded in the West Englewood neighborhood Wednesday night. Video is available that shows Ray running from the police, but the actual shooting was not recorded. The sergeant who shot the man said that he had a gun. On Thursday, Superintendent Johnson announced that no gun has been recovered.
In the Chicago protests, police shootings are a focus of the demonstrators, and the latest one comes on the heels of continued concerns of city residents, Black Lives Matter activists, and others.
[Featured Image by Tasos Katopids/Getty Images]